I left a piece of my heart in….PHOENIX!

If you had asked me 6 years ago if I wanted to run, I would have laughed in your face & (kindly) said HECK NO. I grew up playing softball and HATED running the bases. There was no way you were getting me out there to “run for fun”.

And then this happened:

June 19, 2011 I went out for a walk. I saw a couple girls running and thought, Hmmm…..ok, that kind of looks fun. So off I went running down the street and back to my house. That was my first mile. On June 26, 2011 I ran my first 5k (28:18) and haven’t stopped since.

running

5K Road Race Litchfield, NH, June 26, 2011

Fast forward from June 2011 to last week. (one day, I’ll post about everything in between). Until then, let’s chat about how I got to Phoenix and how I left a piece of my heart there.

DID SOMEONE SAY PARTY IN THE DESERT?

What started out in February 2015 with a few friends meeting up & running a marathon, turned into a social (running / party) event in 2016. I kept seeing the hashtag on instagram: #ItsGoingDownAtPhx . It caught on like wild fire and next thing I knew – I was simply missing out. Shortly after 2016 Phoenix Marathon,  #WeRunSocial: A crew with the sole purpose of running all the miles and winning life on the interwebs, was born. ((you can read about all that here))

2017 BMO MESA PHOENIX MARATHON RECAP TIME:

Without boring you with all the details – I signed up for what would be my 3rd marathon, I made plans, I booked a hotel, flight, trained for MONTHS and off I went. Marathon #3….. am I crazy? Maybe a little bit. But who isn’t really. And, in case you don’t know, #IRun4Mataya . You can read about that here  (go ahead, I’ll wait for you).

Thursday, February 23rd: THE ARRIVAL

@pavementrunner and I caught the same flight into Phoenix. Once there we grabbed lunch, checked into the hotel and ventured out for a beer and a movie – The Great Wall. Ya, lets just say I probably would have fallen asleep but I was scared Brian would have done an Instagram live featuring me snoozing, so I muscled through. (I’m not a movie go’er so I was pleasantly surprised with the comfy recliners!! )

Speaking of Instagram live, when we got back to the hotel that night, Brian thought it would be fun to do an IG live session. So we did- and it was fun and should happen more often.

 

Friday, February 24th: RACE DAY EVE

**MORNING**

@pavementrunner and I picked up @fitfam6 at the airport, grabbed breakfast at Starbucks and headed to the Lululemon outlet. I’m not much of a shopper and the only Lulu item I owned at the moment was gifted to me. Buuuuuuut, when in Rome right….I picked up a pair of shorts on discount. (and now I’m obsessed. I blame THESE TWO!)phx-lulu

**NOON**

Bib pickup and a quick walk through the expo (which was extremely easy to navigate and lots of great vendors) .  @WeRunSocial and @ProCompression hosted a meetup which was awesome. I was able to finally meet some of the awesome peeps I’ve been following online.

img_20170224_173315_084

found my name on the wall — and took a selfie, duh!

 

wrs-phx

the meet up crew

phx-selfies

no fun was had

 

**NIGHT**

After the expo, a few of us headed over to  La Grande Orange. They have great pizza, delicious dessert, beer and then some! And of course, we took more pictures.

fb_img_1488485568713

Back to the hotel,  laid out my clothes, and tried to get as much sleep as I could. 3:00am wakeup was going to come fast.

img_20170224_195737_091

#FlatSarahW ready for race day

Saturday, February 25th: RACE DAY 

Alarm was set to go off at 3:00am. The course was a point to point so we needed to catch the shuttle at a certain time. @Pavementrunner and @carleemcdot had done this before, so I just followed the leader and rolled with them.

I trained for 4 months and was ready to run. Only thing I forgot to do……Check the freaking weather. It was a tad chilly, but thankfully, they let us stay on the bus until it was time to head to start line. (which would end up hurting me. I’ll explain, keep reading)

 

16903234_10154899415915619_4602512210088207959_o

img_20170225_062900131-01

Beautiful Sunrise. I can’t believe the size of the cactus!

img_20170225_062725360-01

quick selfie before we RUN ALL THE MILES!

 

 

What should have happened was 20 minutes of stretching and warming up — sadly, I lost track of time chatting & keeping warm on the bus that by the time we got off of it, we had 3 minutes until race time. YIKES! I did a few jumping jacks, found the 4:40 hour finish pace group, connected my garmin and off I went.  Almost immediately after crossing the start line, the feeling of defeat, sadness, and mostly ANGER came over me.  My left shoe wasn’t tied tight enough, my right shoe seemed to be a little too tight, my quads weren’t loose, I felt defeated and I hadn’t even run a quarter of a mile. It was over before it had even began. Or was it…I had two choices in this moment. 1) give into the defeat & be miserable  or 2) pull my shit together, dig deep and remember why I am doing this.

I run for Mataya. She is a year old and has gone through far more than ANYONE should ever have to in life.

In the past year she has:
▶beaten cancer!
▶had 2 helicopter rides
▶5 surgeries
▶7 rounds of chemo
▶51 blood product transfusions
▶almost 1,000 labs/scans/images done
▶spent 5 months inpatient at a hospital 2.5 hours away from home
▶been a resident in the NICU, PICU, and PEDS.

 

I pulled over, re-tied my shoes, pulled it together, got OUT of my head and carefully caught back up to the pace group. It was dark for the first 3 miles which is too bad because I’m sure the scenery and the views were amazing. It was also downhill so I had to make sure I pulled back a little and didn’t go all out or I’d be regretting that later.

fb_img_1488126344000

Together, we are now on a mission to teach the world about neuroblastoma cancer – creating awareness and fighting for a cure because NO ONE, especially a newborn, should ever have to go through all she’s been through. For now I am her voice, as she gets older, she will start being her own voice.

 

I stayed with the pace group through mile 16. We stopped for a quick bathroom break. With 10 miles to go, I knew it was time to listen to my body. I had maintained an average pace of 10:30 minutes per mile to this point. I was starting to get tired and my quads never really loosened up. I chose to take the time to stretch as I watched the pace group take off without me. I had told myself that there was no goal for this race other than to just finish with my head held high.

“If I run with no regrets and no excuses, there is no way in hell I will finish and feel like I failed. I will be so proud of myself.” – Kelly Roberts  ( Run Selfie Repeat podcast, episode 4:  “Fear of Failure”)

 

One of the many things I loved about this marathon, the free race photos!! They caught me at mile 19, mile 23 and the finish line.

fb_img_1488113926858

Mile 19 – GOING STRONG

img_20170226_182651

MILE 23 – I’VE GOT THIS

fb_img_1488212453721.jpg

MILE 26.2! I DID IT

Mile 23 was tough. My legs were tight. Mentally I was in it, but my legs just weren’t having it. Concerned about injuring myself, I chose to walk at a 15 minute mile walk and then gave it my all coming down the chute for the finish.

My friend Linda was there cheering for me at the finish line and handed me yellow roses (my fave!) as I crossed. We ran our first marathon together (Big Sur) back in 2015, so to share finish line #3 with her, was special.

16806923_10154902342265619_1103365293873796353_n

Mesa –  Phx Marathon. Finish time: 5:08 hours.

The Celebration

@ProCompression graciously hosted a party with the ambassadors. It gave us all a chance to see people we didn’t catch at the finish line, enjoy a well – earned beer, yummy food, race day stories, what’s lined up next and who is coming back next year.

Will I be back next year? OH HECK YA. Redemption baby. I won’t make the same mistake twice. I missed 2016 (which is a huge bummer because the medal from 2016-2020 half or full marathon all match up to create a copper star). SIGH! I also won’t make the mistake of not taking the time to stretch.

This was mine and Mataya’s first marathon together. It won’t be our last.BMO Harris Bank Mesa-Phx Marathon stole a piece of my heart that day. I can’t wait to go back, give it my all and HOPEFULLY, cross the finish line and ring the PR bell.

Registration is already open for 2018. I’m registered.

So now the big question , who’s coming to the party in the desert with me?

16939003_10154906180425619_7469360129966592627_n.jpg

#earnthebird (and a donut!)

signature

my LA Moment (2-14-2016)

“The marathon represents more than just 26.2 miles, it symbolizes the adversity we face in our lives and our ability to overcome the greatest odds.”

365 days later and I still get teary eyed and emotional thinking about the LA Marathon last year. 26.2 miles from Stadium to Sea – on Valentines Day.

Friday February 12th: arrival to LA, the Expo, walk around / check out Santa Monica & Venice.

12710879_10153850746400619_7898799210433101627_o-copy

Saturday February 13th: amazing morning – a run with the fabulous Julie Weiss (this was her 100th marathon! She has been pounding the pavement to raise awareness for the beast that is Pancreatic Cancer) followed by an amazing and oh so inspirational talk with Jimmy Dean Freeman. EXACTLY what I needed. Back to the hotel to watch the Olympic Trials which were happening back down by the LA Convention Center. Followed by the #WeRunSocial meetup and back finally back to the hotel to rest and relax before the big day.

12687769_10153852526315619_2286139564706579714_n-copy

12688237_10153853019445619_8502978788610368305_n-copy

#WeRunSocial meetup

12733542_10153852611395619_5005094073338446345_n-copy

The Huntley Hotel provided a special marathon menu! Chicken Ragout

12745691_10153853279670619_560948801951580312_n-copy

Sunday, February 14th: THE BIG DAY! Yes this was my 2nd marathon. But it was my first one alone. I made a new friend (shocker I know!). We met up bright and early, chatted about our game plan and goal for the race. I told Jeff I MIGHT try to run with the 9:30 pace group, to finish in 4 hours and 30mins. It was him who really pushed me to go for it. What did I have to lose really. So I did……

I ran strong and only stopped once – at mile 22. I had hit my wall, HARD. The leader of the pace group was amazing, but I needed to fall back and go at my own pace. Half a mile later, kneeling on the ground, bawling my eyes out, I called my husband, Kyle. No words were coming out of my mouth, just my sobbing cry – as usual, he was there for me. Now at this point, I had no clue what my pace or time was. “You’re freaking KILLING IT!” he said. “Don’t stop. You can do this.”  It was at that moment I realized, I was just in my head and I could actually do this. Picked myself up and repeated the words: I Can and I Will. And that I did….

12742749_10153858992275619_424063015948472713_n-copy

photos taken along the course mile 23 & 26 and of course, a finish line selfie with my #1

I crushed my goal and managed a PR (of roughly an hour!). Unofficial Finish: 4:38!

“Everything you ever wanted to know about yourself you can learn in 26.2 miles”.

Yup. That’s the truth.  I had big {scary} goals. I put a plan into place, I followed it and I did as I set out to do.

The photos above are a reminder that I am capable of ANYTHING I set my mind to. As I told myself REPEATEDLY with every single step “I CAN & I WILL”.

I have never in my life felt so strong, so powerful, so unstoppable. THAT is #myLAmoment

12710719_10153855285875619_2260581825162259360_o-copy

Happy Valentines Day to the best and most supportive group of friends a girl could EVER want. (A HUGE HUGE HUGE thank you to my amazing husband. I love you 💖💖)

signature

(another) New Month, New Beginning

Ah, a new month. What better time to hit reset, refocus and regroup. There is no need to wait for New Years Eve to make changes in life. The way I see it, each month is a chance to reset; make adjustments & continue working towards being the best version of yourself.
13876424_10210033210569869_4837804246388467108_n

I have big dreams. Some of them being I want to run more, I want to run faster. The list goes on. When training for a race, naturally you’ll see me in better shape & making healthier decisions knowing I have a long training runs ahead. Lately, I’ve found myself working out, but not as hard as I capable of, or as often as I should. Been living in funkville and for some reason, just haven’t been able to find the bus for my ride out. I can assume what you are thinking here –‘then sign up for a race’.

That’s the expensive answer. Races aren’t cheap. Sure a discount code helps on the cost of the race, but it’s all the other costs that begin to add up.  It’s the ride share app (which is usually surging both ways due to demand) or parking. If it’s a race getaway then it’s the flights & the hotel. The experiences are my absolute favorite & I will continue to do them, but in moderation as I do not so much enjoy the money I hemorrhage for this hobby.  Plus after a long week of work, I like to leave the weekends for adventures with my hubby.It’s all about balance.

After I got back from the LA Marathon (which was February 14, 2015, yes it’s been awhile) I took the time and planned out a training schedule pretending to be prepping for a race. It didn’t work. There was nothing to motivate me & keep me engaged. Sad right?

A friend suggested I look for a buddy. Someone I can run for. Someone who would look forward to my notes a few times a week. GENIUS! If you scroll back a few blog posts, (like this one for Meagan or this one for my mother in law, Marie. This one for sweet Maggie )  you’ll see I have dedicated some of my runs to loved ones, and even to strangers I have personally never met, but their story touched my heart. This was it. A buddy, an inexpensive way to keep myself motivated and be inspired by someone else.

Searching the magical land called Facebook, I found it: I Run For Michael . This is a community forum for inspiration from those who have special needs and for you to inspire others with YOUR story and who YOU run for! Um hello!!! Where has this been my whole (5 year) running life?

The wait list is lengthy. I knew when I put my name on it, it would be months before I was potentially matched. My guess was October. Well, I took a peak today at the listing and I am at number 94!! This means in the next couple weeks (hopefully), I will be matched with my I Run For buddy.

I am beyond excited and can’t wait to meet my match. Running for a purpose….that, that is what motivates and inspires me to get up and go.

What motivates you to get out there and run?

 

signature